Some local prep coaches have labeled teenager Whitney Hardt a running "phenom." Judging from her performances at the White Mountain League track and field finals May 4 in Winslow, the Rim Country Middle School eighth-grader could be deserving of the impressive title.
The speedy youngster, who shows no signs of tiring once she takes to the track, easily won the Class B 800- and 1,600-meter events.
In the 800, Hardt turned in a 2:31 clocking that would have been good enough to earn a top-three finish in many high school meets.
The Class A 800-meter WML champion, a Whiteriver Alchesay athlete, was timed in 2:37.84.
In middle school/junior high track and field competition, the Class A athletes -- who are bigger and stronger -- almost always turn in better times, distances and heights than the B and C competitors.
Hardt has been the exception to that rule all season.
In the Class B 1,600 meters, which she won in 5:53.21, Hardt proved the longer the event the better she performs.
Her closest competitor, an Alchesay runner, trailed in the distance (6:34.26).
Once again, Hardt turned in a better ET than the Class A event champion whose winning 1,600 meter time was 6:03.79.
The youngster said there is no secret behind her unbridled running success ... she just enjoys the sport and works hard at it year-round.
The only White Mountain championship event in which Hardt was entered that she didn't pocket a gold medal came in the high jump where she finished second with a leap of 4 feet, 6 inches. The teenager's eye-popping accomplishments in the WML gold-medal games came on the heels of 800- and 1,600-meter victories in a USA Track and Field meet held last week at Glendale Community College.
Lady Mavs shine
In addition to the contributions of Hardt, the RCMS cinder cause received gold-medal assistance from younger sister, Kari, the Class C 1,600-meter champion (5:57.37).
Also in Class C for the Mavericks, Haylee Huff won the 100 meters (13.78) and paced the 4x100 relay team run to a first-place finish (58.43). On the gold-medal squad with Huff were Katie Plumb, Krista LaHaye and Jennifer Knighton.
In the Class C 200 meters, Knighton was the gold-medalist sprinting to a 30.9 finish.
Knighton's older sister, Jana, finished second in the Class A 400 meters (1:08), second in the 100 meters (13.47) and sixth in the long jump.
Coach Randy Wilcox lauded the contributions of Jana Knighton, who has been on the RCMS team for the past four years. "She's one of the really good veterans," he said.
In the final team scoring, the Lady Mavericks finished as WML runners-up with 130 points. The Snowflake Lobos (195) took home the girls' crown. Tallying 96, Blue Ridge was third.